For the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, the Jamis/Sutter Home is bringing in an interesting mix of sprinting, climbing and time trialing skills. It may be the strongest team in the squad’s history at the race.
Directeur Sportif Sebastian Alexandre preferred to call it well balanced as opposed to strongest. “I think the race is coming in good timing for Tyler, for Luis, for the Borrajos, Tom is back so I think we have a well balanced team this year.”
“It’s good when you have that potential to race every stage. We are excited to be back in the Amgen Tour of California. We’re happy, we’re proud to be invited. We know it’s difficult to get results in this kind of race but we will try.”
With all the skills represented, the team will play it stage by stage. “When it’s a flat stage we’re going to work for the sprinters, on a hilly day we’re going to try and help Luis and Tyler mix up with the ProTour guys and on the time trial, we all know what Tom can do. We’re happy because every stage we have something to do.”
With a few stages targeted at sprinters, the team might bring out the leadout train for the two fast sprinters on the team in brothers Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo, but it will depends how the race developed up to that point.
“Every field sprint we will target with the brothers. They know how to be up there on their own, if we have a leadout it’s better, but they know how to be there if they don’t have too much help.” explained Alexandre.
It’s about taking opportunities that appear. “You can plan, you can set this day is better than this other day, but at some point, for us, for our kind of team, when we have a chance we have to take it. We’re going to try to be there as many times as we can so if there’s any opportunity we can take advantage of it.”
The start at altitude is good for the two climbers, NRC Champion Luis Amaran and Tyler Wren. “Tomorrow is the first day, Luis and Tyler live at altitude, it’s good for them. We’ll see how the race starts and we’ll go from there.”
But then, the forecasted snow and cold come into play on the first two stages. The first thing for the riders is to be prepared mentally. “You have to be ready to suffer, to suffer the cold, to suffer the race. We are excited to be here, so I’m sure the guys will suffer the weather but at some point, they will enjoy to be in this race. If its raining, if it’s almost freezing, no one is enjoying the race.”
“Some riders are more used to the cold weather than Luis, the Borrajos. Cubans and Argentinians don’t mix very well with the snow.” laughed Alexandre.
Alexandre modified the season schedule with a plan to race less this year. “Last year, we had a tremendous year but after June, everyone was tired on the team so the last two, three months we suffered, we paid everything that we did good at the beginning of the year was hard at the end. I’m happy the way that it ended, because we had another good year. Every year, we won races, we were putting good shows on at the races either in the breaks, in sprints or winning stages, we’re always up there. ”
The goal is to be racing well at the other big stage races later this year. “For this year, I tried to plan a little bit less racing so we’re not that tired at the end of the season, we want to be part of Utah, we want to be part of Colorado and so we’re going to be doing less races in the season, to be good for the races all season.
Alexandre feels that the team, led by Amaran, Wren and Tom Zirbel, is ready to tackle the big California race. “Everybody knows that Tyler is riding really well. Everybody knows about Tyler, Luis, Tom. Tom, I think can be good, he’s been off racing for a year and half but he proved at Gila that he was in good form. So I know that he’s not going to be one hundred percent at this race but I’m expecting him to do well and I think he’s going to do better every race he goes to.”
The team, with then title sponsor Colavita, participated in the first two editions in 2006 and 2007 and then returned in 2009 but were not invited last year. For this edition, the team is ready to race.
“We missed it last year so it gives a different flavor when you miss it one year and then the next year you come with more hunger. You want to show that you can do well and that you can race here.”
The Jamis/Sutter Home roster for the Amgen Tour of California includes Luis Amaran, Fernando Antogna, Alejandro Borrajo, Anibal Borrajo, Jamey Driscoll, Andy Guptill, Tyler Wren, and Tom Zirbel.